A HILLARYS resident has shaved off her long hair in support of a friend who has a hair loss condition.
Kam Waihi (37) shaved her locks off on May 12 in recognition of her friend Kathi Tait (45) who has been dealing with the condition alopecia areata since she was nine years old.
“It all happened very quickly. I started getting large bald patches and within no time at all, I lost 40 per cent of my hair,” Ms Tait said.
“My sister passed away from leukaemia the year before, so it was already an extremely tough time.
“I managed to get through primary school okay, however high school was a different story.
“It was terrible; I got bullied because of my alopecia – it had a huge impact on my self-esteem and personal worth.”
Ms Tait wore a wig for the first year of high school and her hair grew back, only to fall out again after a year and half.
This pattern of growth and loss was frequent, up until her 30s when most of her hair fell out and didn’t grow back.
“Alopecia is often characterised by reoccurring hair loss and growth; it is so unpredictable,” she said.
“Each time it grows back, you become hopeful; you think you’ve beaten it.
“Then it falls out again and each time that happens your heart just breaks.”
A few years ago, she shaved off the small amount of remaining hair, stopped wear wigs and started living a life as a bald woman – branding herself as the ‘bald warrior’.
Miss Waihi, who has known Ms Tait for more than 12 years, said her friend still faced judgement every day.
“I see it with my own eyes how people react to Kathi in shopping centres and other public places,” she said.
“It takes some courage to brush that off.
“I want more people to know about the condition and to send out the message – that it is ok to be bald and that it shouldn’t be associated with rebellion or sickness.
“I want bald to become a more common style of choice so that when little girls look at someone like Kathi, they won’t be shocked and alarmed.”
Australia Alopecia Areata Foundation (AAAF) president Chel Campbell said raising more awareness about the condition was key in supporting people affected by it.
“It’s not uncommon for people with alopecia areata to suffer from depression, anxiety and social phobias,” she said.
“With increased public awareness and understanding, the more likely it is that those affected by the condition will have a more positive life journey.”
Visit https://aaaf.org.au/ for more information.